Volkswagen hopes its T-Cross small SUV will appeal to young families in urban areas that want a maximum amount of rear legroom and trunk space in a small package.
The brand's latest SUV, which will make its world debut this autumn and arrive at European dealers next spring, was designed to be more practical and functional than the slightly larger, lifestyle-oriented T-Roc.
Executives expect the T-Cross's packaging to lure customers from competitors such as the Renault Captur and the Peugeot 2008 rather than cannibalize sales of either the VW Polo small hatchback or the T-Roc.
"We think the SUV share of the [small] segment will double in the next 10 years," VW brand small car product line boss Andreas Krueger told Automotive News Europe.
He wouldn't share volume expectations for the T-Cross, but company sources say the small SUV could provide a half million units a year globally once production starts in all five plants.
"We're going worldwide with this, starting in Europe, then South America, both Chinese joint ventures and finally India," Krueger said.
Although some volumes will come from Polo customers switching to a crossover or a T-Roc driver moving down a segment, Krueger expected the larger share of customers should be new to the brand, helped in part by the packaging and the unique design.
"We're expecting a considerably higher share of conquests," he said. "It offers maximum amount of value for the customer in a very small footprint."
He said there might be further derivatives for the T-Cross to keep the model line fresh over its life cycle, but he said there were no plans to bring a cabriolet version like the T-Roc.
The vehicle, which will be built in Pamplona, Spain, and based on the MQB A0 architecture, will arrived in European showrooms next April. Three turbocharged gasoline engines with power ranging from 94 hp to 148 hp and one entry diesel will be initially offered, but all-wheel drive will not be offered.
Customers can order it with a fully digital cockpit including an 8-inch touchscreen middle console. Wireless mobile phone charging and USB ports, two each for the front and rear, are also part of the infotainment system.
Production for South America begins in Curitiba, Brazil, in late spring to early summer 2019.
Another key market for the model will be China, where VW's two rival joint ventures, SAIC and FAW, will produce essentially the same vehicle with only minor differences to the sheet metal on the front and rear to save costs. Its launch is expected around July 2019.
Eventually, VW plans to produce the vehicle at its plant in Pune, India.
For non-European regions, the vehicle will get a slightly longer wheelbase to meet market requirements.
The U.S. and Canadian markets will not receive the vehicle.